Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah today said he disagreed with the move by authorities to arrest several individuals for criticising the country’s leaders.
He said such arrests should not take place as Malaysia is a country that upholds the principles of democracy.
“If it is fake news, then of course we will investigate. As a democratic person I do not agree with anyone being arrested because they have criticised political leaders unless it has to do with religious issues or the rulers,” he said at an online press conference today.
“I may not agree with your criticism but I will defend your right to speak,” he added.
Although he did not mention specific names, Saifuddin is believed to have been referring to the arrest of several people who had criticised Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor on Facebook.
On Aug 10, the police arrested two men for making comments deemed as negative about Sanusi following a report made by his special officer.
On Aug 9, meanwhile, a senior citizen aged 61 was remanded for uploading a video said to have humiliated the menteri besar.
Saifuddin urged politicians and the public alike to be guided by the constitution in their speech, not only their emotions.
He gave the example of lawyer and former Federal Court judge Gopal Sri Ram.
“They speak according to the provisions of the Federal Constitution as there are some who question the legitimacy of the prime minister.
“But many of us who speak do so based on emotions and extreme political tendencies. We encourage debate but let it be based on facts and the constitution,” he said.